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Safety Student Life Transition

Finding Your First College Apartment: A Checklist

November 29, 2021

For many young people, moving into an off-campus college apartment is an exciting first step to independence. But before you can enjoy your newfound freedom, you have to find a suitable apartment and arrange the move.

Here’s our college apartment checklist to help make the process easier.

Finding the Right Apartment

Students need to consider more than just price and location when looking for a college apartment. You should also consider:

Distance

How close to campus do you want to be? If you have your own transportation, you could expand your search to neighborhoods further away, where you may find a better apartment at a lower price. 

Safety

If you will be walking or biking to and from campus, safety should be a top concern. How safe is the neighborhood and what security features does the apartment complex have?

College community

If you want to be part of the student social scene, then an apartment near campus would probably be ideal. If, however, you would prefer less social distractions, choose a quieter neighborhood.

Amenities

What type of amenities would make your life easier — laundry facilities, communal areas like pools or gyms, or nearby restaurants and shops?

Access to public transportation

If you don’t have your own transportation, find an apartment close to public transit so it’s easy to get around.

Pets

Would you like to bring your pet? Not all apartments allow pets and those that do are likely to have some rules around pets. In addition, you may want to look into getting renters insurance that covers pet-related incidents. Note that some policies restrict certain types of breeds, like Pit Bull Terriers and German Shepherds. 

Planning Your Finances 

You may dream of a trendy studio apartment in the heart of the city, but your budget may relegate you to a more affordable option a little farther away. Finances play a big role in where you eventually settle. But with some planning, you may be able to find a happy medium. 

First, crunch the numbers:

  • What is your budget for rent?
  • Are utilities included in the rent? 
  • Will you be paying extra for a parking bay or garage?
  • How much will your public transportation or vehicle running costs amount to? 
  • Will you be paying for car and renters insurance?

If the total costs are higher than your budget allows, there are ways you can make renting a college apartment more affordable.

  • Consider a roommate. This is a great way to cut costs, but choose wisely. Pick a roommate with a similar lifestyle and habits. Remember, a bad roommate who breaks the rules could get you kicked out of the apartment. 
  • Get a part-time job. You may not even need to leave your apartment — there are online jobs for students like freelance copywriting or teaching English online.  

Preparing to Move 

Once you’ve found the right apartment, it’s time to pack. The easiest way to do it is to pack by room, i.e. kitchen, bathroom, living room, office/study area. Label boxes clearly so that the movers can immediately put the boxes in the correct room, ready for you to unpack.  

Moving Day

Moving homes is one of life’s most stressful events. With a little planning and forethought, you can breeze through it.

  • Decide on whether to move yourself or hire a moving company. Weigh up cost-saving versus time-saving. Hiring a moving company is an extra cost but it may save time and be more convenient. There are also moving companies who specialize in helping students move at more affordable rates.
  • If you’ve decided to tackle the move yourself, gather some troops to help with the heavy lifting. Mom, dad and friends may be happy to help. As a thank you, treat them to some snacks and drinks in an end-of-moving-day party.
  • Be prepared emotionally. Moving day can be emotional, not just for your parents, but also for you. Don’t worry, though, mom and dad will always be a phone call away when you need them! 

Moving day doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep these tips in mind for a smooth move!

Adulting Safety Student Life

Apartment Safety Tips for Renters

September 10, 2021

When it comes to living in your first apartment, safety is just as important as location or amenities. As opposed to single-family homes, apartments are 85% more likely to be targeted for crimes such as theft, according to the National Crime Prevention Council. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect yourself from apartment burglars.

An apartment complex that has many units can be an easier target for burglars because they are able to act as though they live in the building and simply follow someone inside. There are other factors that also affect the likelihood of a burglar paying a visit to an apartment complex, including:

  • Convenience
  • Occupancy
  • Visibility
  • Accessibility
  • Vulnerability

Even in a smaller unit such as a one-bedroom apartment, there could be items that are valuable and worth stealing. In fact, the average victim of theft reports a loss of $2,416, according to FBI crime reports. Although the two most common stolen items are drugs and money, there is a variety of valuables that could be in plain sight and easy for a burglar to grab.

Other common stolen items include:

  • Cash
  • Jewelry
  • Illegal drugs
  • Electronics
  • Prescription drugs

Security Tips for New Renters

One of the perks of living in an apartment complex is that other tenants can give an added element of vigilance. Aside from this, however, there are some steps that new renters can follow to help protect their homes. Whether it’s your first time moving into an apartment or the tenth, here are some safety tips to think about before move-in day:

  1. Do a search of local crime. Take a virtual tour of an online crime database before you tour the building. Location is key, so find out what to expect before you sign a lease.
  • Survey the environment. Details such as dark corners, overgrown landscaping, peeling paint or broken fences are signs of inattention and carelessness, which can attract burglars looking for an easy target.
  • Check the windows. While doors are often the first point of entry for residents and burglars alike, broken, vulnerable or loose windows make getting in too easy for intruders.

Moving into your first apartment is an exciting adventure. To protect your new home, make sure your security bases are covered. Check out this infographic for more information on how to get your residential security up to snuff as a renter or landlord.

BIO: Travis Ray is Director of Customer Care & Strategic Marketing for KEYper® Systems, a key management and storage systems company. Ray is responsible for overseeing the customer care team that provides software and hardware support for new and current clients.

Safety Student Life

How to Stay Safe in College

July 1, 2021

College can be a crazy and scary new step in every incoming freshman’s life. Whether attending college in your hometown or 6+ hours away, it is important to stay safe on and off campus. A new location and responsibilities can leave you vulnerable. Below are tips that new college kids need to remember on how to be safe during the school year.

Tips:

  • Stay aware and travel in groups.
  • Save the phone numbers of campus police and town police.
  • Be aware of the safety and mental health services provided on campus including rides, hotlines and blue safety lights.
  • Join the local/campus safety Facebook for look-outs and warnings.
  • Share schedules with friends and roommates. 
  • Learn about any dangerous parts around town

College is a time for you to meet new people, gain an education and learn new experiences. Have fun and get the most out of your time in college but remember that safety is really important when going out. Most stories you might hear occur when girls are going out in the middle of night. You may also hear stories where people say they had a really an unpleasant feeling before something bad happened. Don’t be afraid to leave if you’re uncomfortable in a situation. Sometimes your gut knows more than you. The best thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and the experiences of others. Below are good tips to remember when going out.

Tips:

  • Always have a designated driver or call an Uber/Lift.
  • Go out with people that you can trust and will take care of you.
  • Never take a drink offered by someone unless you saw them make it. 
  • Share plans or locations when going out or on a date.

If you are left with one piece of information before you go off to college, it should be:

Be aware, use your common sense, but most importantly go live your life at college!

BIO: Emily Bruchmiller is a Senior at Texas Tech University. She is double majoring in Marketing and Management. She is interning at GradGuard for the summer. She loves to spend time with her friends, hiking, and going to new places in her free time.

Health Safety Student Life

How to Stay Healthy When Heading Back to Campus

June 9, 2021

The thought of returning to campus after spending the last year learning from home is exciting, but might also seem a little overwhelming. It’s easy for flu and cold viruses to spread in school environments. How can you stay healthy when making your return?

Go Back Prepared

Travel-sized hand sanitizer can be beneficial. Hand sanitizer is great to have around if you use a bathroom that is out of soap or touch something in a heavily trafficked space and there’s no sink nearby. Also stay vigilant about washing your hands. Staying in this practice will keep you from spreading germs and keep you healthier overall.

Take Your Vitamins

Vitamins and supplements can do a lot to help you maintain good health year round.  USANA Health Sciences offers supplements that include important antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamin D and core minerals that your body needs for cell health. Antioxidants give your body the ability to protect against free radicals, which build up when your body breaks down food or takes in tobacco smoke. 

Develop an Exercise Routine

Exercise plays a huge role in keeping you healthy and your immune system strong. Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells that affects the immune system in a positive way. Exercising regularly also helps keep you at a healthy weight which can fight disease. 

Plus, being active keeps you outside in fresh air, where viruses don’t spread as easily. To reap the benefits of exercise, you should workout three to five times a week for 30 minutes a day. This might seem tough when you’re busy with classes and extracurriculars, but it’s important to make exercise a priority. 

Make an Effort to Eat Healthy

It’s no surprise that in addition to adding exercise to your regime, a healthy and balanced diet will help keep you well as you head back to campus. You should eat a variety of foods and avoid processed foods. Processed foods are more likely to be high in saturated fats. Research shows that diets high in saturated fats may contribute to a less healthy immune system. 

Also eat plenty of veggies and fruits of all different colors. Eating greens like spinach have huge benefits to your health and wellness. Spinach is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, so you get double the effect in giving your body the nutrients you need. Foods like bell peppers, garlic and broccoli also have positive effects on health. 

Sometimes you’ll have to eat fast food or eat out. Try and look for healthy options on menus and make a point to add in greens. Green smoothies are a great way to incorporate a quick, healthy meal on the go.

As you head back to campus, there are many habits you can incorporate into your daily life to support your health. Being mindful of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. It’s smart to protect yourself from an unexpected medical withdrawal with tuition insurance. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for the fall!

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Safety

Cybersecurity Measures to Take as a Remote College Student

March 16, 2021

Remote learning has become the norm for many college students all over the country. It was already growing in popularity over the last several years. But, the COVID-19 pandemic created a boom in remote learning to keep everyone safe.

Moving into a post-pandemic world, remote learning is here to stay for some. It’s extremely beneficial for those who need a flexible schedule or anyone who might be looking for a more affordable way to attend college.

But, for all of the benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks and risks. One of the biggest concerns for remote college students should be cybersecurity and knowing how to keep yourself safe online. While you might not have to deal with things like on-campus crime, cyber criminals can do just as much damage with your personal information.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from cybercrime as a remote college student.

Understand the Risks

Any time you submit personal information online, it can be a risk. Educate yourself ahead of time on your college’s cybersecurity program(s) and privacy policies.

A school’s cybersecurity priorities should include:

  • Network monitoring
  • Data monitoring
  • Protective controls
  • Network segmentation
  • Password management
  • Vulnerability scanning

If your college is offering remote learning opportunities, they should be upfront about the security measures they have in place. Their IT department should be available to work with you as often as possible, and it should be easily accessible.

You should also put some measures in place at home to keep yourself as safe as possible, especially if you’re giving out financial or medical information. Invest in security measures that medical services use, like antivirus software, and make sure you never give personal information to any school website that isn’t secure.

Keep Yourself Safe – Wherever You Are

One of the perks of being a remote student is that you can take classes anywhere. But, when you’re off-campus, you might not have a strong cybersecurity system in place to keep you safe from threats. It’s important to know what to look out for when it comes to those threats, so you can reduce your risk of an attack.

Some of the most common cyber threats are:

  • Phishing emails
  • Denial of service
  • Malware programs

It’s also important to be aware of “man-in-the-middle” attacks. These occur when a perpetrator steps into a digital conversation, usually when you’re trying to get help. For example, if you’re having problems with a software program or website, you might see a chatbot pop up. A perpetrator can pose as someone offering to help you, but their main goal is to steal information. Be aware of red flags asking for too much information or things that aren’t relevant to the conversation.

Educating yourself on these threats (and others) can keep you from becoming a victim of viruses or having your personal information stolen.

The risk of cybersecurity threats shouldn’t keep you from taking college courses online. But, knowing that the risks are out there and how you can keep yourself safe from them is a crucial component in the success of your remote learning process.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Safety Student Life

Protecting Your Apartment From Winter Weather

December 21, 2020

Snow may look great outside your home, but you should make sure you know how to deal with it if it ever gets out of control or threatens your safety.

Here are a few quick tips to make sure you’re safe at home for the rest of the winter, especially if there’s a storm:

One basic way to protect your home or apartment from snow is shoveling. Buy a medium-sized shovel and make sure that walkways and sidewalks are completely clear after a storm. Shoveling helps you and your neighbors stay safe from black ice and other post-snowstorm dangers. It’s also a smart idea to use salt on any walkways to help melt ice quickly. As always, be careful while you’re out there clearing things up! Inside, make sure to have welcome mats so everyone can clean off their boots before entering, and eliminate tracking water into the house that could lead to slips and falls. You don’t want to be liable for any injuries at home!

Another way to keep your place safe and sound during a storm is by checking up on the heat. During a storm, there’s always a chance that you may lose power. Be sure to keep the heat running—keep yourself and your roommates warm just in case! If your heat does not appear to be working properly, be sure to talk to your landlord ASAP—don’t get stuck in the cold during a storm.

One thing tenants may forget about is ice buildup in unusual places. For example, ice can freeze and accumulate at a rapid rate in your downspout or other exposed pipes. If enough snow builds up in the pipes, there could be disastrous results. Make sure to check with neighbors, roommates and landlords to be sure that your pipes stay ice-free, especially after a big blizzard.

An important snow safety tip for your apartment is be prepared. If a big snowstorm is in the future, make sure you’ve taken care of everything ahead of time at home. Be sure to keep blankets and flashlights out in the open in case your heat or power goes out. If it looks like a blizzard could last for days at a time, stock up on plenty of food and household essentials like soap and toilet paper, just in case you won’t be able to get to the grocery store for while. If you have a car, put it in the garage or an area where it won’t get snowed in.

If you’re not sure about the state of your apartment for the rest of the winter, talk to your landlord to discuss any concerns. It’s important that you’re 100% sure your place will be safe during a storm or blizzard—peace of mind is key during the wintertime. Also, consider renters insurance to help cover your personal belongings and protect what’s important in your home in the event of an accident.

Stay safe for the rest of the winter! Spring is just around the corner!

This article was originally published in 2012 and has since been updated.

Safety

Safety for College Students Over the Holidays

December 3, 2020

With the holidays and subsequent winter break quickly approaching, it’s time to start making plans. As stressful as this time of year can be, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, it’s imperative you’re taking the right precautions to keep your physical, emotional, and mental health safe.

Whether you’re traveling back home or staying in place this year, here are some tips worth keeping in mind over the upcoming winter break:

Brush Up on Road Safety Tips

Many students are most likely finding their travel plans up in the air this year. For some, flying back home is no longer a possibility as airplanes can be major hotspots for the spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, there’ll likely be more cars than usual on the road as people try to travel more safely back home. Beyond being a more attentive and cautious driver to better navigate the increase in traffic, it’s also important to remember basic safety tips if your car breaks down:

  • Be Prepared: Before you hit the road, pack your car with an emergency kit that includes essentials such as water, blankets, personal safety accessories, and first aid necessities. It may take a while for help to reach you if you get stuck in a snowbank in a remote area or the like, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case you have to wait a bit.
  • Stay With Your Vehicle: If you’re in a hurry and break down, it might be tempting to start walking towards the nearest gas station or town, but that can be dangerous. You could be injured by other drivers while walking or get lost in dangerously cold temperatures. If you have to walk, make sure you are as visible as possible to others.
  • Get Your Car Off of the Road (If Possible): The best-case scenario if you’re having car issues is to get on the shoulder of the road; however, that’s not always possible. If you break down in the middle of the road, most cars can still be steered to a safe waiting area with the help of another passenger. If you’re traveling alone though, the risks that come with trying to steer and push your car to the shoulder are sometimes more dangerous than breaking down on the road itself. If you can’t move, make yourself as visible as possible with your hazards, flares, flags, or reflectors to avoid accidents.

Of course, the ideal situation is that you’ll arrive at your destination without any hiccups — but on the off chance that something does go awry, knowing what to do can keep you safe and get you back on the road faster. 

Practice Self-Regulation to Combat Stress

This year has been an extremely difficult time for several reasons: sudden campus closures, remote learning difficulties, canceled social events, and more. And now, many students are feeling the mental and emotional health strain of not being able to go back home to see loved ones during major holidays. 

Learning more about self-regulation skills and utilizing them is a great and healthier way for students, beyond the pandemic and holidays, to handle stressors. Additionally, self-regulation skills make things such as completing assignments, regulating our emotions, and preparing for upcoming semesters more manageable. Of course, this can be helpful for anyone, regardless of age or station in life, but with higher rates of depression and anxiety among young adults, developing self-regulation skills and anticipating setbacks can be critical to being safer and more successful.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help

If there was only one word to sum up this year, a strong contender would likely be disappointment. With most major social events such as Rush Week, homecoming, and school games being canceled, along with internships, performances, and other extracurricular activities, this year is disappointing for a lot of students. Of course, these are necessary precautions to ensure the safety of campuses and communities, but it can still be hard to come to terms with.

Luckily, there are resources to help you if you find yourself struggling to cope with everything this year. Moreover, with the increased use of telemedicine thanks to COVID-19, setting up virtual sessions with a therapist or campus counselor is easier than ever. Check your campus-provided counseling resources to see if they’re a fit for you and your needs or, if you’re under 26 years old and still on your parent’s insurance, set up an appointment with your healthcare provider to get a referral. It’s okay to need a little extra help sorting through your emotions during this crisis, especially while also juggling your academic life. 

AUTHOR BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Safety Student Life

Campus Crime and Student Safety

November 24, 2020

When you think about college, it’s typical to think of all the positive experiences and encounters you will have as a student. Whether it’s getting excited about your major, dorm life, making new friends, and gaining independence, most college students are ready for all the new adventures college has to offer. Unfortunately, campus crime becomes a part of the conversation too. Crimes such as burglary, sexual assault, hazing, and theft are some of the most common crimes that occur on or near college campuses. Here are ways to minimize the chances of being a victim of campus crime and what to do if it does happen to you. 

Protect valuable items.

  • If you have jewelry, designer clothes, shoes, or other items that may put a target on your for thieves, consider leaving those items at home.
  • Look into buying a renters insurance policy to protect the stuff you do decide to bring with you to campus, such as your backpack and laptop.
  • Be mindful of who you invite over. Make sure valuables are hidden or locked away safely.
  • Take pictures of your stuff in case you do become a victim of theft or malicious damage. That will help you file a claim for reimbursement through your renters insurance policy.

Travel in pairs or groups with people that you know. 

  • Use the buddy system when attending an event or a party. This is especially important if you’re a young woman who may be at greater risk.
  • Share your location with friends and let someone know when you plan to return.
  • Never leave someone alone in a vulnerable or uncomfortable situation. If necessary, leave as a group and make other plans instead.

Be smart on social media.

  • Don’t share when you’re away from your dorm or residence hall.
  • Avoid geotagging and sharing your location on photos, videos, and other posts that would reveal your current location.
  • Think twice about sharing any sensitive information online, including any revealing details about where you live or work.

Have a plan.

  • When going out, especially at night, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Walk with confidence, and avoid looking confused even if you’re going somewhere you haven’t been before.
  • Don’t use headphones or keep your head down looking at your phone when you’re walking.
  • Download safety apps to turn your phone into a pocket-sized security guard.

From making new friends to becoming independent, there are a lot of positive things to look forward to as a new college student. Overall, it should be fun. Bt with this comes the responsibility of staying as safe. Sometimes college students think campus is one big protective bubble. But that’s not always the case, unfortunately. Remember these tips for staying safe!

Other Safety

Top 3 Reasons College Tuition Insurance Is a Smart Decision

July 13, 2020

When college families and their students are discussing college, the topic of money always comes up in the conversation. For good reason too! Did you know that the combination of tuition, fees, and room and board charges average between $20,000-$50,000 a year?

For many college families, the expense of a higher education is one of the largest investments they will make. Since there is so much money at stake, we suggest that college parents make a plan in case their student is forced to withdraw from school due to severe injury or illness. Of course, if you are one of the few families out there that can afford to lose your large investment, then tuition insurance may not be necessarily needed for you.

However, for most of the twenty million college students and their families, the financial loss of an entire college semester is a burden big enough to break the bank. As a result, college families are smart to consider the purchase of tuition insurance prior to the start of the school semester.

3 Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision

  1. If you can’t afford to lose the tuition paid for a semester at school – Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund of your expenses in the instance that a student gets severely ill or injured and needs to completely withdraw from the university due to a covered reason.
  2. If your school does not provide a 100% refund – Do you know what your school’s refund policy is? A majority of school refund policies do not extend beyond the fifth week of the semester, and many don’t refund the full cost after the first week of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their refund policy is so you can see how much of your money is at risk.
  3. If you have additional academic expenses – Even if the school does provide you with a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing. Many tuition insurance plans can provide coverage for academic fees and student housing in addition to tuition.

Student health incidents like illnesses, accidents, and mental health conditions happen frequently, even to young and healthy college students. The good news is that college families can protect their investment by purchasing tuition insurance! Visit our website at www.gradguard.com/tuition to see the plans available on your campus!

Other Safety

Students Remain Vulnerable to Losses from Campus Fires & Crime

August 20, 2019

Growth in campus fires and crimes confirm the value of renters insurance for college students.

More than 3 million college students are preparing to move into on-campus student housing and dorms.  While living on campus is proven to help promote greater college completion, students are often living independently for the first time and are vulnerable to unique risks. 

According to an analysis of nearly a decade of Clery Act reports on Campus Safety of more than 6,000 colleges and universities, annually there are more than 37,000 crime and safety incidents on college campuses. Further, there are 1,726 fires reported within on-campus student housing.

With so much money at stake, John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, “suggests that college students and families make-aplan in case your student’s property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for unintentional damages they may cause.”

The Top 3 Reasons GradGuard’s Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

  1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computer. – Renters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property.  Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property. – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk. 
  3. If you can’t afford to pay for damages you cause. True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

GradGuard’s renters insurance policy is designed for college students living either on or off-campus.    GradGuard’s renters insurance contains an exclusive student endorsement that provides affordable coverage ideal for college life and provides both personal property and liability protection:

  • Worldwide property coverage (for study abroad or mid-term trips);
  • Aa low-deductible starting at $100;
  • Replacement cost coverage. 

According to Fees, ‘For about 50-cents a day, students can protect their students’ belongings against losses, making renters insurance a must-have consideration for college families. In fact, 84% of state insurance commissioners recommend students obtain renters insurance. Whether you are living on or off-campus,  college students and their families are smart to consider purchasing renters insurance before the start of school.”